The 3rd overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, Jayson Tatum came into the league with expectations that he had considerable potential, and he has thus far managed to exceed those expectations. As part of a loaded roster on the Boston Celtics, Tatum has managed to separate himself as the best and most versatile player.
As Tatum continues to expand his range beyond the three point line, he ensures that he becomes a more serious threat on offense, expanding his options of attack.
A nitpick on his game would be what seems to be a lack of play-making ability from the wing. The shift towards position-less play in the NBA means that wings are typically expected to have the ability to function as over-sized point guards if needed.
Tatum’s versatility is more profound on the defense end, with the ability to utilize his length and lateral quickness to guard multiple positions. Offensively, though he is not a terrible passer by any means, Tatum is almost singularly talented as a scorer.
The saving grace of this is that he is incredibly difficult to stop as a scorer. He is slowly improving as a play-maker though and has shown improvement in almost every facet of his game in his three seasons thus far.
His tireless work ethic and willingness to improve continues to be a huge driving force behind his progress. Given his current trajectory, Tatum’s maximum upside appears to be perennial MVP contender and maybe even peak as the best player in the league at some point.
Naturally, this brings into question, can Tatum be the best player on a championship level team? Likely, yes. In fact, the Celtics as currently constructed are seriously likely to contend for an NBA championship as recently as next year.
Tatum’s skills scale upwards very well. This is to say that he shoots well, is athletic, and possesses a high basketball IQ. So, the more opportunity that Tatum is given to impact the game, the better he performs.
While this may sound obvious, it is often the case [usually with role players] that players are able to have a high impact on the game but only in a limited capacity, with production decreasing as opportunity increases.
This is especially apparent when his success playing along side Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker and previously Kyrie Irving is taken into account. It is typical for young players to perform worse when playing with other stars until they grow into their games.
Tatum’s polish at an early age is not the norm in players with high upsides. Make no mistake however, Tatum is just scratching the surface of his abilities as an NBA superstar. Though he is not as heralded for his potential as Luka Doncic, he can easily surpass the young Slovenian in terms of pure impact.
As a rookie Tatum scored 351 points in the playoffs, trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. By one point. Though he is rarely discussed in these terms, Tatum’s career can soar to the heights of one of the absolute best to have ever played once it is all said and done.
Without being hyperbolic, Jayson Tatum’s game can grow as far as he is willing to push himself, and history has shown he’s no slouch.
Clint is an avid fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, and contributed to various sports publications prior to his work with Upside Hoops.